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Minutes of a Council of War at Head-Quarters, Cambridge, held January 16, 1776


At a Council of War, held at Head-Quarters in Cambridge, January 16, 1776:

Present: His Excellency General Washington, the Honourable John Adams, Member of the honourable Continental Congress, Major-General Ward, Major-General Putnam, Brigadier-General Heath, Brigadier-General Spencer, Brigadier-General Sullivan, Brigadier-General Greene, Brigadier-General Gates.

His Excellency the Commander-in-chief, laid before the Council Letters received last night from Major-General Schuyler, enclosing copies of Letters from Brigadier-General Wooster, Colonel Arnold, and Colonel Donald Campbell, containing the melancholy account of the death of General Montgomery, the wounding Colonel Arnold, and the consequent failure of the success of the assault upon the city of Quebeck, on the 31st of December last.

His Excellency then requested the opinion of the Council, whether it be proper, in the present circumstances of the lines, to detach a reinforcement from hence, to the succour of the troops in Canada.

The question being put, it was

Resolved, That in the present feeble state of the Regiments here, it was improper to detach any force from these lines to Quebeck, or Canada.

The General then asked, whether in the present critical situation of affairs in Canada, he should, in their opinion, stand justified in requesting, in behalf of the Continent, a supply of Troops from the New-England Governments, which was, unanimously, resolved in the affirmative.

The Council then, unanimously, advised his Excellency the General, immediately to apply to the Legislature of each of the above-mentioned Colonies, Rhode-Island excepted, forthwith to raise a regiment of seven hundred and twenty-eight men, officers included, and direct them to march with all possible expedition, by the route prescribed by Major-General Schuyler, to Canada, to be continued until the 1st of January next, as part of the Continental Army, should the affairs of the Continent require it.

His Excellency then demanded the opinion of the Council, whether ten regiments of Militia of seven hundred and twenty-eight men each, officers included, to be added to the troops now in the lines, and expected to be inlisted, would not be a sufficient number to answer all the purposes of offence and defence ordered and intended against the Ministerial army in Boston.

Resolved, unanimously, That as matters are at present circumstanced, it is best that the three regiments intended for Canada, should be taken out of the thirteen which have been requested to reinforce the Army in these lines, and that ten regiments, only, be marched to Cambridge, to serve until the 1st of April next.

The Council were, unanimously, of opinion, that in the present situation of the affairs of the Colony of Rhode-Island, continually subject and exposed to the attacks of the Ministerial fleet, and detached bodies of troops, it was neither prudent nor reasonable to demand any more troops from thence.